Manila Times - - SPORTS - JOSEF T. RAMOS

MAG­NO­LIA and North­ern Lu­zon Ex­press­way (NLEX) are both eye­ing a third win when they clash in the main game of the Philip­pine Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion ( PBA) Sea­son 43 Philip­pine Cup tonight at the Araneta Coli­seum.

The Hot­shots and the Road War­riors, tied with iden­ti­cal 2- 1 win- loss cards, col­lide at 7 p. m. right af­ter the open­ing tus­sle be­tween Alaska and the skid­ding Kia at 4: 30 p. m.

Mag­no­lia is com­ing off a 12477 rout of the Pi­canto but head coach Chito Vic­tolero ex­pects a tough grind against NLEX, which saw its two- game win­ning run snapped by Phoenix.

“We need to have men­tal tough­ness for this game for 48 min­utes. We ex­pect a very phys­i­cal game from start to fin­ish so we re­ally need to con­trol our emo­tions and fo­cus on our ex­e­cu­tion,” said Vic­tolero, who drew 23 points, eight as­sists and six re­bounds from Justin Mel­ton in their last game against Kia.

“Our team de­fense is the key to win­ning this game,” he added.

Ian San­galang and Paul Lee car­ried the scor­ing load for Mag­no­lia in its first three games, both av­er­ag­ing 19.6 points and the lanky cen­ter notch­ing 10 re­bounds per con­test.

NLEX is keen to re­bound from a 95- 102 loss to the Fuel Mas­ters, the team’s first loss af­ter a 2- 0 start.

“We are try­ing to pre­pare against Paul ( Lee) and San­galang but they have a lot of of­fen­sive weapons that we need to con­tain like Peter June Si­mon, ( Jio) Jalalon, ( Mark) Bar­roca and Mel­ton. Paul might be the best scorer but he knows how to get others in­volved too,” said Guiao.

“They routed Kia with their pres­sure de­fense so we have to pre­pare some­thing for that. It shows how po­tent their de­fense is be­cause they are very quick and can con­vert turnovers to points, so we have to min­i­mize our turnovers,” he added.

Af­ter av­er­ag­ing 19 points in the first two games, No. 2 over­all pick Kiefer Ravena was held down to just eight points on 4-of-13 shoot­ing by the Phoenix’s de­fense last Sun­day.

Mean­while, the Aces try to fol­low up their 103- 98 win over Mer­alco last Wed­nes­day where Calvin Abueva and Vic Manuel com­bined for 38 points to snap a two- game slide for a 1- 2 mark.

The game against the 0- 3 Pi­canto will be a nostalgic one for Alaska coach Alex Compton be­cause he will be play­ing vs his for­mer men­tor Ricky Dandan.

“My rookie year in the MBA (Metropoli­tan Bas­ket­ball As­so­ci­a­tion) in 1998 in Manila Met­rostar he (Dandan) was my first coach. I know what kind of bas­ket­ball mind he has,” said Compton. “Kia is re­ally ab­so­lutely a dangerous team.”

The Pi­canto, cur­rently at the bot­tom of the stand­ings, will en­ter the game with a 15- game los­ing streak dat­ing back last con­fer­ence, the long­est los­ing streak in the last decade of the PBA.

Ian San­galang No.10 of Mag­no­lia at­tempts to score against Prince Caperal No. 12 of Kia dur­ing a PBA Sea­son 43 Philip­pine Cup game at the Araneta Coli­seum. PHOTO BY ROGER RAÑADA

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